Introduction to McAllen, Texas
McAllen is a city located at the southern tip of Texas in an area known as the Rio Grande Valley. Only about five miles from the Mexican border, McAllen is situated along U.S. Route 83, which connects the Valley to West Texas. Other major highways servicing the city include U.S. Route 281 and Texas State Highway 107. Regional air transportation is available at Miller International Airport, which offers frequent daily flights to major hubs in Houston, Dallas and Mexico City.
Developer John McAllen settled in the Rio Grande Valley in the late 1800s and established a town site in 1904 known as West McAllen. Shortly thereafter, other developers started a nearby town which they named East McAllen. The two groups eventually joined forces and in 1911 the City of McAllen was incorporated. Over the next several centuries, McAllen experienced steady growth and by the 1970s saw an increase in industrial trade and manufacturing brought about by activation of the Free Trade Zone (FTZ). The passing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in the 1990s enhanced the impact of the FTZ, resulting in the creation of several thousand new jobs in both the U.S. and Reynosa, Mexico. Over the last three decades, McAllen has transformed into the regional Valley leader in commerce and government and has become home to a large number of national businesses.
Attractions in McAllen and Rio Grande Valley
The International Museum of Art and Science is an outstanding art and science museum located in McAllen. Mexican arts and crafts are displayed in the North Gallery, while the Earth Science Gallery features a long-term exhibition of dinosaur tracks as well as a working meteorological display. The Museum of South Texas History contains a large collection of exhibits and artifacts covering South Texas history including Spanish exploration and colonization, the Mexican War, Rio Grande steamboat era, early ranching and farming, etc. Nature lovers will appreciate Quinta Mazatlan, the McAllen Wing of the World Birding Center, whose mission is to preserve the 1930s adobe estate and the native plants and animals of the Rio Grande Valley. The Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, established in 1943, is home to many birds, waterfowl, and animals native to the Valley. The 2,000-acre preserve recalls life as it was in the region in the early 1900s before it became heavily developed. Another outdoor venue is the Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park, which features over 500 acres of moist woodlands and dry chaparral brush lands and is ideal for camping, hiking, and picnicking.
Professional sports in the Rio Grande Valley are embodied by three regional teams: The Edinburg Coyotes, based in nearby Edinburg, Texas, are an independent minor league baseball team which competes in the United League. The Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees are a professional ice hockey team which is based in Hidalgo, Texas and belongs to the Central Hockey League. Also residing in Hidalgo are the Rio Grande Valley Dorados, a professional arena football team and member of the af2 league.